Indian manufacturer of cough syrup linked to the deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan halts production

The Indian maker of a cough syrup linked to the deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan said on Friday it had halted production of all the medicine after an inspection by the drug regulator. Indian media reported that inspectors had found a deviation from manufacturing standards at one of Marion Biotech’s units. Neither Marion Biotech nor India’s health ministry immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on the media reports or the findings of the inspections.

Uzbekistan’s health ministry said at least 18 children died in the city of Samarkand after consuming Marion Biotech’s Dok-1 Max syrup. Uzbek media reported a 19th casualty on Thursday, with the death of a one-year-old boy.

Uzbekistan’s ministry had said the syrup contained a toxic substance, ethylene glycol, and was given in doses higher than the standard dose for children, either by their parents, who mistook it for a cold remedy, or on the advice of pharmacists.

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India’s drug regulator and regional authorities had inspected Marion Biotech’s facilities in Noida, near Delhi, India’s health ministry said on Thursday, as Uzbekistan took legal action against a representative company premises.

News broadcaster NDTV reported on Friday that Indian authorities have ordered a complete halt to production of all drugs at the company’s Noida facility after finding a deviation from manufacturing norms.

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Marion Biotech has halted production of its cough syrup after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old boy, in Uzbekistan.  Pictured: A poster representing the pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech.

Marion Biotech has halted production of its cough syrup after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old boy, in Uzbekistan. Pictured: A poster representing the pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech.
(Imtiyaz Khan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Hasan Harris, head of legal at Marion Biotech, told Reuters partner ANI: “We are awaiting reports, the factory was inspected. We have stopped production of all drugs.”

Uzbekistan was pulling Dok-1 Max tablets and syrups from all pharmacies, while local media reported that the country has also suspended sales of another anti-cold syrup from Marion Biotech called Ambronol.

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India is known as the “pharmacy of the world” and has doubled its pharmaceutical exports over the past decade, reaching $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The Uzbekistan case comes after the deaths of at least 70 children in Gambia that had been linked to cough and cold syrups made by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Both the Indian government and the company, however, have denied wrongdoing.

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